How to Take Control of Your Parent’s Finances

Blog Post08/23/2017
Life Events

There may come a time when it becomes necessary to take over your parents’ finances because they've fallen ill or there are signs of financial mismanagement. It can be emotionally difficult to see your parent or parents in this position, but helping them can ensure that their money is secure and their bills are paid. Handling the situation with sensitivity can help make the transition as painless as possible.

Ease Into the Situation
There can be serious consequences if your parents are having trouble managing their finances. They may be susceptible to fraud, scams, or accidentally forgetting to pay an important bill. They might also resist you intervening because giving up financial control can be very difficult. Broach the subject in a calm and sensitive manner, and point out the possible effects of a missed bill or other oversights.

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If your parents are adamant about not giving up control, consider a compromise, such as taking over just a portion of their finances. They can continue paying monthly utility bills and the rent or mortgage, while you take responsibility for more complex financial transactions, like investments. Slowly gaining their trust can help your parents feel more comfortable about the entire situation.

Durable Power of Attorney
One options is having your parents grant you power of attorney. This gives you authority to act on their behalf with regard to financial matters. A financial power of attorney should be made durable to ensure that the arrangement remains valid if your parents become incapacitated.

Be sure to include all specifics in your power of attorney document, such as whether financial power is to be transferred to you immediately or at some point in the future. A springing power of attorney goes into effect only when or if your parents become incapacitated.

The document can specify the precise financial transactions that fall under your responsibility and control, such as overseeing your parents’ taxes, but not their rent or mortgage payments.

Financial Accounts
Identify all the details about your parents’ financial situation, including their accounts, assets, income sources, investments, retirement accounts, expenses and bills. Make a categorized list that includes dates when income is received and when bills must be paid.

Record any income and expenses to ensure your parents have enough money to last throughout the month. Check in with them frequently to make sure finances are balanced if they're still responsible for paying some of their own bills.

Document Everything
Document everything you do with your parents’ finances. Keep copies of checks you've written on their behalf. Retain bank statements and save all receipts for any purchases. This documentation will help you stay organized, and it will come in handy if anyone questions your actions3.

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